Is Coffee Good For Asthma – Benefits and Risks of Coffee and Asthma

Posted January 17, 2020 by Prescription Hope - See Editorial Guidelines(Last Updated On: April 27, 2023)

Believe it or not, caffeine is a drug, and it’s found in various beverages such as coffee, tea, and sodas. Coffee is perhaps the most popular caffeinated beverage though. And since most people enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning, you may be wondering how it affects you, especially if you have a medical condition. That’s why, in this article, we are going to discuss the benefits and risks of coffee and asthma.

You may be asking what coffee and asthma have to do with each other.

coffee and asthma

But the reality of it is, that as mentioned above, coffee consists of a drug. It is basically nature’s stimulant and a life-saving medication for college students.

But seriously, the National Coffee Association estimated that about 64% of U.S citizens drink coffee. And that’s just coffee! Think about how many more people turn to energy drinks or other forms of caffeine because they don’t like the taste of coffee.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that about 25 million people in the United States have asthma. That equates to about one person out of every 13. And based on the statistics, out of the 25 million people, most that are adults will consume coffee or at least some form of caffeinated beverage.

So, this begs the question. What is coffee doing to those that have asthma? Is coffee and asthma a beneficial combination, or is it causing more damage?

What Does Coffee Consist Of?

Caffeine is the main player involved when it comes to coffee and asthma. Coffee is just the most popular form of caffeine, as well as the most concentrated other than your typical energy drinks or workout supplements.

Caffeine is a stimulant called trimethylxanthine and is naturally occurring. It has a variety of uses, including stimulating the brain and the heart. This is why you may feel your mind racing or your heart beating faster than usual if you have one too many cups of coffee.

Caffeine is also known as a diuretic, meaning it causes frequent urination. This can be used for flushing fluids out of the body.

You may have heard people say that coffee is more addicting than cocaine. Well, this is because caffeine shares a lot of traits with cocaine, heroin, and other amphetamines. This, by no means, is stating that coffee is bad. There have been plenty of studies done that have found that caffeine can be very beneficial.

A Few Benefits of Caffeine

Caffeine can be found in many weight loss supplements or pills. This is due to the fact that it can be used to boost metabolism.

Studies have also shown that caffeine can help breathing in babies that are born prematurely when the caffeine is treated with a citrate of potassium.

Some medications used for headaches or migraines contain caffeine as an ingredient. Headaches can often be caused by enlarged blood vessels. Caffeine can constrict the blood vessels in the brain, preventing or stopping a vascular headache.

What Makes Asthma Medications Work?

coffee and asthma

There are two main types of asthma medications, which are long-term asthma control medications and quick-relief medications.

The long-term medications are typically taken once or twice day-to-day. The purpose of these is to prevent the muscles around the airways from becoming inflamed.

Quick-relief medication, or rescue inhalers, are medications that are inhaled and start working right away. They help open up the airways after they’ve become constricted. This type of asthma medication is typically used on an as-needed basis. They are often used for exercise-induced asthma.

These inhaled asthma medications go directly into the lungs, which is where the problem lies. Once the medication is inhaled, it begins to relax the muscles and open up the airways. This allows more air to pass through into the lungs.

Corticosteroids are common drugs found in asthma medications. This is an anti-inflammatory agent. Meaning, it works by reducing the swelling in the airways.

Bronchodilators, another common form of asthma medication, work in a similar way. The primary function of bronchodilators is to relax the muscles in the lungs. This allows the airways to expand, allowing for increased airflow and easier breathing.

Theophylline is a popular bronchodilator used to treat asthma. It is often prescribed to either prevent or treat wheezing and chest pain associated with asthma and chronic bronchitis.

Coffee And Asthma – A Beneficial Combination?

It turns out that coffee and asthma could very well be a beneficial combination. Studies have been done covering the chemical compounds of caffeine and its effects. Through these studies, it has been shown that caffeine is chemically similar to theophylline. After the body metabolizes caffeine, it turns into small doses of theophylline.

So, to make it a little simpler, caffeine is a weak bronchodilator. This means that coffee could help reduce the fatigue of muscles throughout the respiratory system. However, you would have to consume quite a bit of coffee to get the same results as your inhaler. So, don’t toss your inhaler to the side just yet.

There have been some modern studies to determine how effective caffeine is as a bronchodilator. They say that you would have to consume anywhere between 4-8 cups of coffee in a short period to feel the effect. This could lead to some unwanted side effects, which we’ll discuss later in this article. Drinking that amount of coffee in a short amount of time is not what most people want to do, nor is it recommended

For those that have a mild form of asthma, coffee could be an excellent resource to have. Though you would have to consume large amounts of coffee to really feel the effect, consuming one to two cups a day certainly wouldn’t hurt your asthma condition. It may not necessarily replace your inhaler, but it could help you breathe easier and prevent asthma attacks from occurring.

Coffee and asthma are generally not discussed together with your doctor but consider bringing it up at your next visit.

Coffee And Asthma – The Risks

As with just about anything, consuming too much of one thing can cause unwanted side effects. There is one main concern with coffee and asthma.

If you have a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), then coffee may aggregate this condition. GERD can cause asthma symptoms to become worse if you have both asthma and GERD. So, if this is the case for you, it may be a good idea to avoid coffee altogether.

Apart from this, coffee can cause other side effects, especially when consumed in large quantities. The first, being anxiety and rapid heart rate. Caffeinated coffee will cause your body to release adrenal, the hormone responsible for the “fight or flight” response. This can cause some people to feel anxious or stressed.

Since coffee is most known for giving people energy, it can also keep you from falling asleep when you need it. The half-life of caffeine in the human body is about 4-6 hours. For example, if you drink 100mg of caffeine at 8:00 a.m, you’ll have about 50mg still left in your body between 12:00-2:00. So, if your consuming coffee late in the day around 5:00 p.m, you may find it difficult to fall asleep at the appropriate time.

Caffeinated coffee can also temporarily raise blood pressure. This may be an issue for those that already have hypertension and are at risk for heart attack or stroke. Moderate coffee drinkers that are generally healthy may not need to worry about this so much. But those that consume a lot of caffeine in a day, whether that be through coffee or another source, may want to talk to your doctor about your blood pressure.

Coffee can cause frequent urination, which can lead to dehydration if you are not drinking enough water. If you notice that you are having trouble controlling your bladder or are having to urinate more than usual, you may want to cut back on the caffeine intake.

Caffeine Before A Lung Function Test

Coffee and Asthma

Those with asthma or think they may have asthma will have a pulmonary function test ordered by their doctor. This test measures how well you can breathe, as well as how capable your lungs are at providing oxygen to the rest of the body.

Since we’ve discussed how coffee, or just caffeine in general, can be beneficial for your asthma symptoms, it is essential that you avoid caffeinated drinks before this test. Having a caffeinated beverage beforehand may give you a false reading on your lung function test. This may result in not being prescribed the proper medication you need to treat your asthma.

If your doctor orders a pulmonary function test to be done, discuss with them what else should be avoided. This ensures you get the treatment options that are right for you.


People are continually looking for natural remedies to treat or cure specific conditions due to the costs of medications being so high. But these remedies, such as caffeine, even though they help do not provide the relief that some patients need.

If you are having trouble affording your asthma medication, visit Prescription Hope. We work with a variety of pharmaceutical manufacturers to provide you with your needed medication for $60.00 a month for each of your medications .

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